Follow Their Lead

Last week we received a call from Sebellah’s school saying that she was not feeling well.  So, I went to the school to pick her up early.  When the school’s front office person brought Sebellah out to me, she said, “Go with Grandpa”.  As we were walking to the car, Sebellah said, “That was funny.  She called you a Grandpa, you’re my Dad”. 

My heart always melts when she calls me, “Dad” or when she tells a newfound playground friend that I am her “Daddy”.  Sebellah calls me “Pops” and she calls Allene, “Lolli”.  Our daughter thought, “Lolli” and “Pops” was cute for us to be called, when Kamdyn, our first grandchild was born.  It is cute, but it also could mean that we are two “suckers”.  So, we are “Lolli” and “Pops” to all of our six grandchildren.  At the same time, we have chosen to allow Sebellah to call us “Mom” and “Dad” when she chooses to.  In reality, we are her “Mom” and “Dad”, both legally, as adoptive parents, and in practical experience.  Unfortunately, we lost Sebellah’s mom to an overdose in September of 2019.  She had not seen her a year and a half, prior to her death.  Sebellah’s dad recently was released from prison.  At this point, we have chosen to have contact with him ourselves, sending him pictures and updates about Sebellah, but not allowing a relationship with Sebellah.  We have told him that if and when she asks for information about him, we will be honest with her and answer her questions.  We are open to him having a relationship with her at a later date, if we believe that it is her best interest and safe.  Our main approach is to answer her questions as she asks them and to be honest with her in an age-appropriate manner.

Our approach is “our approach”.  I believe that it is important that to say that there are very few “rights” and “wrongs”, when it comes to how we each parent the grandchildren that we are raising.  Each of us find ourselves in unique positions, with unique circumstances and face unique challenges.  We will each have to make our own decisions about what is best for our grandchildren in our unique situation.  Of course, knowing which approach or strategy is best for our grandchildren can be very difficult to determine.  This is another reason why finding a support group can be very helpful.  It can be very helpful to hear from other people who can relate to your experience and to hear from them about how they have or are handling similar situations.

I do believe the key is to always consider what is in the best interest of our grandchildren.  The interests of our adult children or other people’s opinions, should not be our guide or deciding influence.  It is always, what is best for these precious little ones or sometimes, not so little ones, who are in our care.  As far as what Sebellah calls us and what information we share with her about her biological parents, we have chosen to allow Sebellah to take the lead, and we have chosen to “Follow her lead”.

Sharing the Journey,

Rich (“Pops”)

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I have been involved in the field of Human Services for 30 plus years. I teach in the field of Human Services for Purdue University Global. Allene is a stay at home "Lolli", after spending many years in the Healthcare field. We have 3 adult children and in May, 2018, we adopted our granddaughter, who is 6 years-old. We have had her since she was 5 months old. At the end of 2019, we moved to Mount Airy, North Carolina, as a part of a plan to downsize and give Allene the chance to retire, and be at home full-time. We are devoted to making a difference in Sebellah's life and also in the lives of other grandparents raising grandchildren.

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